DreamWorks Animation's "Rise of the Guardians" was once viewed by many pundits as the studio's best shot at an Oscar since winning the inaugural award 11 years ago for "Shrek," but things don't quite seem to be going to plan. Critics so far aren't wildly excited, and now box office projections for the holiday weekend suggest audiences aren't either. Variety is projecting a $25 million gross: nothing to be ashamed of, but it'd put it well below last year's "Puss in Boots," and among DreamWorks Animation's lowest openings ever. "Wreck-It Ralph" has evidently stolen its winter cartoon thunder, but can it also zoom ahead in the Oscar race? Or will voters retreat to the familiar comforts of "Pixar," or disregard commerce and side with the auteurism of "Frankenweenie?" For once, the race really is on. [Variety

From "The Master" to "Anna Karenina," A.O. Scott and Manohla Dargis discuss the films this year playing fast and loose (or, in some cases, slow and loose) with storytelling convention. [New York Times]

Jude Law and Michael Gambon will receive honorary awards at next month's British Independent Film Awards. [BBC Film]

Earlier this week it was Fiona Apple, and now you can add another big name to the Best Original Song race: Frank Ocean has written one for "Django Unchained." [HitFix]

There are apparently eight references to other Hitchcock films in "Hitchcock"; Jennifer Vineyard gets seven-and-a-half of them. [Vulture]

Steve Pond talks to documentary maker Steve James -- notoriously Oscar-snubbed for both "Hoop Dreams" and "The Interrupters" -- about his latest work "Head Games," about the rise of concussive injuries in professional sport. Can this one impress the Academy? [The Wrap

Anne Thompson talks to one of 2012's brightest breakout talents: Alicia Vikander, star of "Anna Karenina" and "A Royal Affair." Amazingly, the Swedish actress had to learn Danish from scratch for the latter film. [Thompson on Hollywood]

"Marfa Girl," Larry Clark's first feature film in six years, won top honors at the Rome Film Festival. [The Guardian]

Marian Evans is not happy with the Hollywood Reporter calling its all-male, all-white Writers' Roundtable "among the most eclectic bunch [they've] ever assembled." [Women and Hollywood]

Speaking of which, W.R. Wilkerson III, son of Hollywood Reporter founder Billy Wilkerson, issues a formal apology for his father's role in the Hollywood Blacklist in the 1940s and 1950s. [THR]